How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Prescott Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Prescott Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Prescott Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Prescott Valley medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.